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Patriotic Housekeeping: Good Housekeeping Recruits Kitchen Soldiers

With U.S. entry into World War I, President Woodrow Wilson appointed Herbert Hoover to head the newly created U.S. Food Administration. A mining engineer who had successfully organized the massive effort to get food to Belgium’s citizens after the German army’s sweep through that country in 1914, Hoover was now charged with managing domestic agriculture and conservation in order to feed the U.S. Army and assist Allied armies and civilians. “Food Will Win the War,” declared the Food Administration through its ubiquitous posters and publicity efforts. Planting gardens, observing voluntary rationing, avoiding waste—these efforts at food conservation all came to be known as “Hooverizing.” In a campaign sponsored by the Food Administration, Good Housekeeping magazine published a December 1917 editorial seeking recruits for an army of “kitchen soldiers.” The editorial portrayed women’s domestic work as part of the U.S. military effort and solicited women’s direct participation, asking readers to sign a pledge to conserve food.

Good Housekeeping Institute

Mildred Maddocks Director

Wanted: Recruits for an Army of Kitchen Soldiers!

If the Allied Peoples and Their Soldiers Are to Have Enough to Eat Next Year, You Must Fight Your Battles in Your Kitchen Now!

Will You Sign this?

I, the member of the household entrusted with the handling of food, do hereby enlist as Kitchen Soldier for Home Service and pledge myself to waste no food and to use wisely all food purchased for this household, knowing that by so doing I can help conserve the foods that must be shipped to our soldiers and our Allies.



Women of America, this is a call to you to enlist in an army of food conservation. It is an opportunity to fight a battle that is being waged as earnestly, as bravely, and as skillfully as any battle overseas. It is a call to put your heart and soul into winning this war—to be a Kitchen Soldier!

From Washington the Government is working with a giant’s strength. But the first official request is for cooperation. The Food Administration can make us think, can lay down great, broad, general plans, can tell us what our country and our Allies need. But then the burden comes to us—to work out for ourselves the details of the ways in which each one can serve best.

And that is where Good Housekeeping knows that it can aid you by acting as a central point of contact, a clearing-house of ways and means, a vast recruiting station for the women of this country in their fight!

The plan we have is simply to intensify the work begun from Washington, to add our power to the force of Mr. Hoover and his able staff, to carry further for our readers the working out of our national home defenses from the inside. So this is our proposal:

If you are willing to play an active, vital part in saving food and making every meal a blow for freedom, send us your name to be enlisted in the Kitchen Soldiers' Army. As a symbol of your devotion to the cause in which the Allied nations are engaged, you will receive from us a richly printed certificate. Hang it upon your kitchen wall—to remind you of your pledge!

This is a movement for the woman who is actually dealing in the food of American homes. We want employers and employees to join our forces. A soldier may be one who fights just with her brain or one who fights by doing with her hands the work of women in this crisis.

She may be one whose ancestors have lived here for generations or she may be one whose parents have seen war’s horrors pass their very door abroad, whose brothers bear the arms of England, or France, or Italy, or Russia, or any other Allied country.

Once you have enlisted as a Kitchen Solider, your kitchen is your battle-field. There you must fight your fight. There you must plan and experiment just as we, in the kitchen of the Good Housekeeping Institute, have been planning and experimenting with redoubled efforts since the war began.

When you hit upon a good idea, sit down and write to us. Tell us how you found that you could get along without some food that may mean life and comfort to a soldier in a foreign trench. Tell us new combinations, new substitutes, new short cuts.

We want a flood of letters bearing your discoveries. For years we have invited new ideas in cooking, and thousands of attractive, money-saving recipes have been printed—recipes that represented also daintiness and tastefulness, foods fit for the epicure.

But from our Kitchen Soldiers we want new ways to save food, not merely how to make it attractive. For food must be saved. The women of this country are now in deadly earnest in their fight to save it, and we want ideas to deal out as ammunition in their battle.

Each good idea received will be tried out here in our kitchen. For each one that proves satisfactory we will pay one dollar. It will be printed in the pages set aside for the exclusive use of Kitchen Soldiers.

Those pages in Good Housekeeping will be yours to make as truly useful and valuable as you can make them. When you enlist as a Kitchen Soldier, you contribute, through our pages, to the welfare of the family of every reader of this magazine. From month to month those pages will increase in value; we know that all your brains applied to this great task will greatly multiply the usefulness of the department. Two heads can think of more than one, and once you put your hundreds—yes, your thousands and your tens of thousands of heads at work on Kitchen Soldiery, then we can win this war!

Remember you are fighting not only to save the family gathered round you. You are fighting for the families in every city, village, and town in this broad country. One discovery that you make may send tons of grain or sugar to the nations fighting “over there.” So you are fighting, too, for all the women, all the children, all the soldiers of the Allies—for democracy everywhere.

So, now, enlist! Become a Kitchen Soldier. The time has passed to do your bit. It’s time to do your best! Enlist!

Source: "Wanted: Recruits for an Army of Kitchen Soldiers!" Good Housekeeping, December 1917, 71.

See Also:The New Middle-Class Housekeeping: "How I Keep House without a Maid"
Housewives in Uniform: Domesticity as Military Duty
"More Work for Mother"?: Scientific Management At Home
Victory on the Menu: Recipes and Rationing
The New Housekeeping: Solving the Servant Problem